An impromptu headshot setup –

Usually when I do a headshot session or commercial shoot, I plan well in advance the location, lighting, motivation and tone of the photo.  Sometimes however a photo shoot is a bit more impromptu.  Golf Web Design (local web company that builds web sites for golf courses and golf pros, around the US) is growing by leaps and bounds and needed to update their headshots for their website, speaking engagements and their overall marketing / PR front.  Erick (one of the owners) and I chatted and after considering a few different locations / backgrounds, we decided upon brick.

Yes, brick is over-photographed, but…

While it is widely recognized that the second most over-photographed backdrop on the planet is the ubiquitous red brick wall (fyi, first place is awarded to the wall of bland legal books that serves as the backdrop in virtually every attorney’s headshot… zzzzz… except for the ones I photograph), the patina and hues of the wall in GWD’s entranceway caught my eye.  As far as bricks go, I like the subdued tones inherent to the mosaic of bricks (red, black, white) outside his office.  A quick comparison of multicolor vs the pervasive red inside the building made the decision a no-brainer.

The Lighting Setup

Decent ambient light flooded the entranceway from both directions, which created a cool fill light scraping across the side of Erick’s face.  I wanted to emphasize the texture, colors and industrial feeling of the brick, so I threw a 20 degree gridded strobe on the background.  Now that my background is lit, the foreground was a bit underexposed so I used a 30” X 40” grided softbox (camera right of Erick) to provide the subtle shadow transition on his face.  Erick is tall… well over 6’, so a ladder was needed to add a bit of vert to my 5’10.5” stature.

Here is a quick snapshot of the setup with Erick’s business partner Nick.

Golf Web Design Nick


And here are two of the final images… one where the backlight didn’t fire.  I almost prefer this one to the correctly lit one – it adds a slight edgy feel to the overall image.  Not a bad shoot for absolutely zero pre-planning.  Which do you prefer, backlight (top) or no backlight (bottom)?


Golf Web Design Headshot by Forrest Briggs

Golf Web Design Headshot by Forrest Briggs